Nick Tomnay, director of the twist-ridden thriller The Perfect Host, took some time to answer our questions about his film. In his directorial debut, Tomnay manages to take a simple premise and do something rather inventive and refreshing with it. He crafts a disturbing dark comedy that also doubles as an intense cat and mouse psychological thriller which will keep you guessing and gripped the whole way through.
As The Perfect Host opens up, John (Clayne Crawford) is being pursued by the police, he needs to get off the streets and find shelter. Lucky for him, he manages to con his way into the residence of a man named Warwick (David Hyde Pierce). While Warwick is pleased with his new guest at first, he starts to grow suspicious of John’s story. As Warwick throws questions at John, slowly but surely breaking down his ruse, the fugitive gets worried. It’s at this point that he pulls a knife on Warwick and takes him hostage. There’s just one thing that John didn’t account for, Warwick is far more dangerous and resourceful than he seems. As the night progresses, John realizes that it won’t be long before he finds himself on the other side of this metaphorical table.
Check out the interview below where Nick discusses where the idea came from, how he cast the film, what it was like shooting on a tight budget and more.
We Got This Covered: The Perfect Host is based off a short called The Host, where did the original idea for the short come from and tell us about the journey to turn it into a feature length film?
Nick Tomnay: The idea is an amalgamation of a lot of things, but the jumping off point came from an incident that a friend of mine had with a criminal. The feature took a while. I moved countries and had two production deals fall over.
WGTC: How did you manage to score talent like David Hyde Pierce and Clayne Crawford, and why were they the right actors for the role?
NT: I has a small list for the role of Warwick. David was on that list and responded to the script. Working with him was incredible. He is an amazing actor and human being. Clayne came just before shooting. He is also an amazing actor. I was very lucky to have them in this film.
WGTC: As an independent film, we imagine you must have had a pretty small budget. Was there anything you wanted to do but couldn’t due to budget constraints? What about time constraints, with only 17 days for the shoot it must have been stressful.
NT: I think the film would have been a little bit different with more money. In fact I rewrote the script once the budget had been secured to make it work for the money. The original script was visually quite different. Especially in the third act. I would have liked more time to shoot it, but I think every filmmaker says that. Time is the best thing to have.
WGTC: David and Clayne had great chemistry in the film and played off each other very well, what were they like on set? Did they meet for the first time when shooting started or had they known each other beforehand?
NT: We had four days of rehearsal. By the end David and Clayne and I all knew we were making the same movie. There was a lot of good humor on the set.
WGTC: The film was an official selection at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, congratulations on that as it’s a huge honor, how did that feel? You must have been thrilled!
NT: I was over the moon. It was an amazing experience and a real thrill to sit in the back of the cinema with the audience. The film plays well in a crowded cinema.
WGTC: Now that more and more reviews are starting to surface, are you pleased with the reactions you’ve been seeing?
NT: A lot of reviews say more about the critic than the film they are reviewing. I suppose it is a way for them to express themselves. I have noticed that the reviewers who categorize the film as a dark/black comedy have enjoyed the movie more.
WGTC: The distribution model for the film is VOD followed by a limited theatrical run, are you happy with how things worked out for The Perfect Host in terms of distribution?
NT: The vod/theatrical model Magnolia have seems to be very effective. The movie has done very well so far.
WGTC: When we spoke about the film’s ending, we seemed to have differing opinions. I felt that it left things a bit too open and ended a bit too soon but you had said that it was one of your favorite parts. Why do you think the ending works here, why is this the way you chose to end the film?
NT: Warwick is all about fabrication. But by the end of the movie that way of behaving isn’t going to be enough. Structurally, the film concludes at the end of one chapter of Warwick’s life and asks the viewer to imagine the beginning of the next chapter. A darker Warwick is about to appear.
We’d like to thank Nick Tomnay for his time and be sure to check out The Perfect Host, in theaters on July 1st.